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The Economic and Cultural Reaction to the Native Americans

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The Economic and Cultural Reaction to the Native Americans

Migrating through the new ice-free valleys to the edge of North America, 54 million people lived in the 'New World' by the time of European discovery in 1492. Tribes flourished in this new landscape and created a model for sophisticated society. With a global pressure for power and the Portuguese now controlling the Eastern part of the globe, Spain looked west. Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492, coming upon an island in the Bahamas. One century later European adventurers, victims of primogeniture a hunger for new markets, and religious freedom were financed by the Virginia Company to enter the New World. Spanish adventurers in the 16th century were initially violent towards the Native Americans but went on to culturally assimilate, while still economically disregarding them. Taking the same economic steps as the Spanish, the English colonists used force and violence to settle in the New World, economically and culturally ignoring the Native Americans.

Spanish violence towards the native peoples of North America ran throughout the 16th century. 1519: Hernan Cortez set sail from Cuba to Mexico with sixteen ships and two translators that would give him the ability to understand the Natives they would soon come across. They were met by Montezuma, chief of the Aztecs, who treated Cortez and his men well in the beginning but on Noche Triste, June 30, 1520, attacked the Spanish visitors. As retaliation, Cortez seized the Aztecs simultaneously a smallpox epidemic swept through the Mexican valley. The Spanish conquered the Aztecs. Don Juan de Onte led hundreds of men into Pueblo where they brutally abused the Pueblo people in 1598. 1599 was the Battle of Acoma: the Spaniards cut one foot off each survivor after the Battle of Acoma, making it one of the more obvious examples of violence.

Examples of English violence began in 1607, when the English settled on the Chesapeake. Chief Powahatan, leader of the Chesapeake Powhatan tribe, extended efforts to establish an alliance with the new settlers, but starving, naive colonists raided Indian crops, thus creating a tense climate between the English and Native Americans. Violence towards the Indians continued in 1610 when Loro De La Warr arrived with a declaration of war against the Indians. De La Warr instituted "Irish tactics against the Native Americans in the First Anglo-Powahatan War." (32) The English were a naturally violent people and resorted to violence throughout colonization. Other examples include, King Phillip's War, the Second Anglo-Powhatan War and Bacon's rebellion.

Subsequent to the second Anglo-Powhatan war a peace treaty was forged in 1646 to end all possible assimilation between the colonists and Native Americans. However, the Carolina colonists embarked in a succession of attacks on the Indians, practically liquidating them.

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